American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 28, 2014 – The container ship M/V Cape Ray and its crew deployed from Portsmouth, Va., yesterday with a message of encouragement from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
M/V Cape Ray is the Defense Department’s primary contribution toward international efforts to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons material program, Pentagon officials said in a statement announcing the deployment.
“As you all know, your task will not be easy,” Hagel said in a message to the Cape Ray crew. “Your days will be long and rigorous. But your hard work, preparation and dedication will make the difference.
“You are ready,” the secretary continued. “We all have complete confidence in each of you. You represent the best of our nation, not only because of your expertise and commitment, but because of your willingness to serve when called upon. For that, we will always be grateful. We are also grateful to your families for the love and support they have given you. On behalf of our country and the American people, I wish you much success. Take care of yourselves. God bless you all.”
Hundreds of government and contract personnel have worked over the last several months to prepare the vessel to neutralize Syrian chemical materials and precursors using hydrolysis technology.
“The United States remains committed to ensuring its neutralization of Syria's chemical materials prioritizes the safety of people, protects the environment, follows verification procedures of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and with applicable standards,” officials said in the announcement. “All waste from the hydrolysis process on M/V Cape Ray will be safely and properly disposed of at commercial facilities to be determined by the OPCW. No hydrolysis byproducts will be released into the sea or air. M/V Cape Ray will comply with all applicable international laws, regulations and treaties.”
The Assad regime in Syria is responsible for transporting the chemical materials safely to facilitate their removal for destruction, officials said.
“The international community is poised to meet the milestones set forth by the OPCW, including the June 30 target date for the total destruction of Syria's chemical weapons materials, officials added. “The United States joins the OPCW and the United Nations in calling on the Assad regime to intensify its efforts to ensure its international obligations and commitment are met so these materials may be removed from Syria as quickly and safely as possible,” the statement concluded.